Arsenal down to ten men after Jens Lehman’s red card
As it was, they had a free kick and were now facing ten men. It was easy to feel sorry for Jens Lehmann, being sent off after just eighteen minutes of the Champion’s League final.
However that was nothing compared to the sorrow felt for Robert Pires, the man sacrificed to bring on substitute Manuel Almunia.
Ronaldinho took the free kick but his effort curled just wide of the Arsenal goal.
Arsenal take shock lead
Arsenal looked to be up against it now, a man down to the best passing team in Europe, but they were holding their own and amazingly took the lead shortly before the interval.
Emmanuel Eboue broke down the right and was upended by Carles Puyol. It was a soft decision by the referee but Arsenal took full advantage.
Thierry Henry crossed the ball into the box, and Sol Campbell rose the highest to direct his header past Valdes and into the net.
It was a terrific achievement to take the lead in such circumstances.
Ten men holding on
The goal seemed to spark Barcelona into life and they started to pile on the pressure.
Ronaldinho slipped the ball to Eto’o in the box. He turned sharply past his man and got his shot in at goal. Almunia did brilliantly to throw out an arm and deflect the ball onto the post and away to safety.
The half time whistle blew and Arsenal went in the happier team, but knew there was still much work to do. The match was finely balanced for the second half.
Next goal wins
Barcelona put on Andres Iniesta for the injured Edmilson and he made an instant impact with a low shot that Almunia did well to hold.
Ronaldinho saw his free kick hit the Arsenal wall only for the ball to bounce back invitingly for him to strike at goal again but he skewed the follow up horribly wide.
Arsenal were defending well with tackles flying in to keep Barcelona at bay.
Barcelona break the Gunners down – Read more